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EF Academy hosts second TEDx event: Thinking through perspectives

EF Academy New York is proud to be hosting its second annual TEDx event this year. With a dedicated team of organizers and speakers, they are excited to share their reflections on the theme “thinking through perspectives” with the school community.

Kicking off TEDx EF Academy

In the fall of 2018, a small group of students started a new club called EF Talks. Their goal was to bring industry leaders from a variety of fields to campus to share their work experience, providing a space for students to learn, ask questions, practice networking, and discuss the rapidly-changing world. EF Talks was quite successful, with speakers sharing their experiences in fields like finance and development. The club even welcomed a tribal Chief from Kenya to talk about the importance of education.

The success of the club spurred one member, Pratham Shankar (Class of 2020) to apply for a license to host an official TEDx event. TEDx and TEDx youth events bring the mission of TED, “ideas worth spreading,” to students in a way that fosters creativity, builds leadership, and encourages learning. Shankar and a team of student and faculty organizers hosted EF Academy’s first TEDx event in 2020. With students sharing experiences and speaking on the theme of “Mavericks and misfits,” the event was a huge success.

Student speakers at TEDx EF Academy in January 2020.

This year, another student received a TEDx license to host EF Academy New York’s second annual TEDx Youth event. Aryan Aggarwal, a senior from India, worked on last year’s event as the head of the technology team. “I really liked the event last year, and I really wanted to host another event to bring people together,” Aggarwal says. Over the summer, he applied for and received the TEDx license to host another event.

Thinking through perspectives

Aggarwal wanted to create an event that is relevant to every person in the audience. “I thought last year’s event was a really good opportunity to provide people with the platform they need to share their stories. At EF Academy, people are from all over the place, and not everyone knows everyone. But everyone has very interesting stories to tell.” When choosing the theme of this year’s event, Aggarwal kept EF Academy’s diversity and internationalism in mind. He landed on “Thinking through perspectives.” Aggarwal hopes that this theme will allow participants and viewers to “share their perspectives, get to know more about others, and be sensitive to new and varied outlooks.”

In a school like EF Academy New York, the sharing of perspectives and worldviews is woven into classes, activities and conversations each and every day. But, fostering diversity and inclusion of all cultures and perspectives is always a work in progress. So, having an event dedicated to understanding each other is a huge benefit to the students and the school community. “I don’t see many other activities in our school providing a platform to share stories the way TEDx does,” Aggarwal explains. “We have assemblies and cultural events, like Lunar New Year, but I think that TEDx is a really great way to provide people with a space to share more personal stories and reflections.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

Aggarwal, the TEDx organizing team and the speakers have all been working tirelessly to curate a meaningful and impactful event this year. “We have a very good team this year, working hard every single day. I’m blessed to have such dedicated people around me. The advisors have been absolutely amazing too – we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” Aryan says. Working together to bring this event to the school community, the organizers themselves have gotten to experience the theme firsthand as they get to know each other and learn more about each other’s backgrounds.

The speakers have also been working hard to prepare their stories and practice their presentations. Each speaker will share a presentation on something they’re passionate about, using personal anecdotes and perspectives. Topics range from musings on humanity to a discussion on microaggressions. In addition to four student speakers, the event will also include a guest speaker: Anna Ivanova, an alum of EF Academy. She graduated from EF Academy New York in 2013 and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT.

Because of Covid-19 safety restrictions, this year’s event will run a bit differently than the previous TEDx EF Academy. Since only a few people will be able to attend in person, the event will be broadcast live to the school community. After reflecting on some tech difficulties during last year’s event, the organizers capitalized on this chance to make some big improvements to the way the event is live-streamed. With new equipment and better video streaming capabilities, this year’s event is sure to be a success.

Fostering connection and community

For Aggarwal, success will come in the form of genuine human connection. “I chose this theme because it applies to every single person. I want everyone to listen to the stories and hopefully feel inspired or connected with the speakers’ different backgrounds,” Aggarwal hopes. With all the challenges brought by 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, an event like this is just what the school community needs. Connecting through stories – even via screen – is a powerful way to bring people together and inspire each and every viewer to continue working together toward a better future.

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